AGILE is the supremely durable yet comfortable fabric designed for use in structural firefighting uniforms, that is purposely manufactured to protect against harmful particulates as well as heat stress. Global Business Manager Colin Whittaker explains how and why Hainsworth Protective Fabrics developed AGILE, the gold standard in protection.
At Hainsworth, we’ve been developing and supplying fabrics to the fire services and leading the market in flame resistance, durability and comfort since 1900. We keep our fingers on the pulse and stay informed about the ongoing concerns and requirements of firefighters – whether through our participation in industry standards boards, or by visiting Fire and Rescue Services around the world. We are dedicated to understanding what firefighters need from their PPE, what challenges they face, and where possible pre-empting any areas where they feel their protection should be improved.
While heat stress remains the overall greatest threat to firefighter health, we know that the potential for exposure to carcinogens and other harmful chemicals, and the subsequent long-term health risks, is a real area of concern. In 2020 the Fire Brigades Union and the University of Central Lancashire collaborated on a report into firefighter health and found that the firefighters they surveyed were four times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than the general population. It’s a subject that many firefighters are understandably troubled by, and it’s vital that their PPE is designed to help tackle this threat.
To ensure that any residual smoke, chemicals or other harmful particulates are removed, and to help reduce any risk to the wearer’s health, it is crucial that fire garments are washed thoroughly after every use. On speaking with firefighters, we became aware of a considerable concern that their kit would not be able to withstand frequent washes while still retaining its crucial thermal protection.
As a result of this we developed AGILE, creating a fabric that provides additional protection from chemicals alongside exceptional durability, while not compromising on thermal protection, comfort and flexibility, all at a low weight of 180gsm.
To maximise protection from harmful soluble chemicals, the fibres in AGILE have been woven together into a high-strength gabardine (twill) structure that gives maximum resistance to liquid penetration. The gabardine weave creates rivulets that force water to run off the fabric instead of soaking into it. This means the wearer is not only kept dry, but that their exposure to harmful chemicals is actively minimised.
Constructed with a high concentration of protective fibres packed onto the face of the fabric and with ultra-strong yarns in the back, AGILE also provides exceptional resistance to abrasion. Not only does this increased durability provide excellent break-open resistance, it also crucially means that the fabric can withstand over 100 washes without losing its protective qualities, giving firefighters the confidence that their kit can be kept clean and safe for longer.
While forced run-off and reduced exposure to chemicals was a key driver in the development of AGILE, to reach the epitome of protection it has also been constructed to be effortlessly comfortable and extremely lightweight at 180gsm. Its unique design provides increased flexibility that ensures the garment moves with the wearer, allowing them to perform at their peak for longer periods of time.
With its innovative design, maximum durability and exceptional comfort, AGILE above all provides firefighters with confidence in their protection.
Hainsworth Protective Fabrics are proud to be exhibiting at Intersec 2022. To find out more about how we can protect you, visit us at Stand 6-A35.
For more information, go to www.hainsworthprotectives.co.uk/agile/